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The 5 elements of emotional intelligence

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 28 Apr 2021

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Psychologist Daniel Goleman identified the key personal and interpersonal skills involved in emotional intelligence – and why EQ is just as important as IQ when it comes to success.

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is about recognising and understanding your emotions – what you’re feeling and why – as well as appreciating how they affect those around you. It’s the basis of good intuition and decision-making, helping you to instinctively make the right choices for you in all aspects of life. Self-awareness is also about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and what is important to you – your values or moral compass.

2. Self-regulation

Once you’ve mastered emotional awareness, the next step is managing those emotions – particularly the negative ones – effectively. Always treat others with respect and try to stay in control. If you have a tendency to emotional outbursts, practise being calm: step back and take a deep breath. It’s also important to stay true to your values, and hold yourself personally accountable for any mistakes.

3. Motivation

The third ‘personal’ element, motivation is about your drive to improve and achieve: setting high standards for yourself and working consistently towards your goals. Take the initiative: be ready to act on opportunities as they come along, and practise being assertive. Motivation is also about optimism and resilience, and finding the positive in a situation, even – or especially – those that didn’t go well.

4. Empathy

A key interpersonal skill, empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see a situation from their perspective. As well as having an awareness of others’ feelings, it’s important to acknowledge and respond to them – even if you don’t agree with them. Respecting diversity and inclusion is a vital aspect of empathy, as is communication: pay close attention to what you and others say, whether verbally or through body language.

5. Social skills

Often described as a ‘people person’, those who are socially skilled are adept at dealing with others. They are trustworthy team players and confident communicators: as good at listening to other people as they are at speaking themselves. They also make great leaders, inspiring and motivating colleagues, managing change and resolving conflict effectively, and giving praise where it’s due.

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